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...this play. Ophelia is a tragedy within a tragedy. Of all the characters, she alone is innocent and deserves happiness. Instead, she suffers the death of her father at the hand of her future husband, Hamlet, is driven mad and dies by drowning.
Her death is surrounded with speculation as to whether or not she has committed suicide. The truth comes out that in her madness, she accidentally falls into a stream when a willow branch she is climbing breaks. Rather than helping herself she clutches the flower garlands she has been collecting as she slowly floats on the surface. She sing madly, nonsensical songs as her dress slowly become soaked and drags her under the water.
There is a willow grows aslant a brook,
That shows his hoar leaves in the glassy stream;
There with fantastic garlands did she come
Of crow-flowers, nettles, daisies, and long purples
That liberal shepherds give a grosser name,
But our cold maids do dead men's fingers call them:
There, on the pendent boughs her coronet weeds
Clambering to hang, an envious sliver broke;
When down her weedy trophies and herself
Fell in the weeping brook. Her clothes spread wide;
And, mermaid-like, awhile they bore her up:
Which time she chanted snatches of old tunes;
As one incapable of her own distress,
Or like a creature native and indued
Unto that element: but long it could not be
Till that her garments, heavy with their drink,
Pull'd the poor wretch from her melodious lay
To muddy death.
There is an allegation that she took her own life but I believe she, in her madness, lost connection with reality and died not from violence but from neglect. As this greatest of Shakespeare's tragedies spins to it's brutal end, Ophelia's death adds the literary exclamation point on the needless waste of life depicted in Hamlet.
Model: Chloe Holzinger
Scene composed with photography from Oneonta Gorge in Oregon.